All photos in this post © Elizabeth West
Wow, I had written a lovely post for you, and then I accidentally deleted it. GAH!! I’ll do my best to recreate it.
I was going to go to the National Museum in Cardiff, but I misread the website. It’s shut on Mondays. So I hopped on a bus and went to Cardiff Bay instead.
The bay is a huge waterfront area that used to be shipping, but now it’s a business and recreational development. It houses the Wales Millennium Centre, along with Roald Dahl Plaas (named after the author, who was born in Llandaff). These locations, along with many others, will be very familiar to fans of Doctor Who and Torchwood.
I had a nice conversation with a workman named Adam on the Plaas. Like everyone else here, he asked me where I was from as soon as he heard my accent (yes, Virginia, in Wales, YOU have an accent, not them!). We talked a bit of politics, my holiday, and about London.
Adam was talking about Londoners and he said, “We don’t like skinny women here. We like our women meaty!” Perhaps he was only speaking for himself, but it was very amusing. And encouraging, since I can’t seem to shake these last fifteen pounds. I should definitely come back here!
The Pierhead Building is the home of the Welsh National Assembly. I went inside it to view an art exhibit. It’s a really lovely building. It used to be the headquarters for the Bute Dock Company. The staircase is a masterpiece of Victorian tiling.
Mermaid Quay (pronounced KEY) is part of the bay development. You can shop, eat, and take a boat to Penarth from there.
The water taxi is operated by The Open Boat tours. It took me around the bay and to the marina at the bottom of the headland at Penarth. The skipper, whose name I failed to get, kept me entertained by explaining all about Cardiff Bay. It was a very nice ride, though breezy. They keep blankets aboard but I didn’t need one. It’s been humid and warmish in Wales and the cool breeze felt good.
I learned a lot. For instance, I did not know that Cardiff Bay is NOT a bay; it’s a huge freshwater lake! Yes, it is fed by the River Taff, which flows through the city of Cardiff, and the River Ely. Every ten yards or so, there are bubbles coming up in the bay. They’re big aerators to keep the water from going stagnant. It’s like a huge fish aquarium.
Further on, you come to the barrage, which is like a huge dam separating Cardiff Bay from the sea. Skipper explained to me how it all works. It’s pretty cool, actually.
We docked at Penarth. I had to climb up the headland from the water. Good thing I’ve been doing all that stair climbing at work. It’s so steep that there were bits where I thought I might have to crawl. I suppose people who live in Penarth are used to it. At the top, I visited St. Augustine’s Church and its picturesque (and slightly creepy) old graveyard.
Penarth is a charming village built around and on the headland. The streets are very steep. I suppose they’re lucky they don’t get ice storms here like the ones we have in Missouri–you could not drive up these hills if they were slick. Or walk up them!
I made my way to the Penarth Pier pavilion. It took me so long to get here that it was shutting up, but I was able to get a cuppa (tea, what else?) to go and I took it down to the beach. The tide had gone out and I had the wrong shoes for poking about in the mud, so I just sipped and ate a truffle from the Quay and looked out at the fog and mist over the sea.
Then it was time to go, so I climbed back up the hill (oof!) along a path through Alexandra Park and back to the train station, where I grabbed a train back to Cardiff Central Station.
Despite the damp and dreary weather, this particular outing ended up as a very nice day. I’m glad I did it, though I missed standing on the Torchwood hub (arrgh!) and it would have been nice to see the Doctor Who Experience. I’m definitely coming back to Cardiff sometime, so I’ll just do those things then.
In my next post, I’ll tell you all about my visit to a mini-bucket list item (not the official bucket list, just an offshoot), and another delightful discovery.